A luxurious customized facial is one of the ultimate ways to self-pamper. Many people head to the nearest day salon or medi-spa for a chemical peel, exfoliation, or other cosmetic treatment, skipping the setting of a dermatologist’s office in favor of a medi-spa’s fluffy robe, cucumber water, and relaxing background music. But while medi-spas can be excellent choices for simple relaxation, a dermatologist in Sterling Heights is a better choice for safe, effective, state-of-the-art cosmetic treatments. When choosing between a medi-spa and a dermatologist, it’s important to recognize the differences between them and to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type of provider.

What is a Medi-Spa?

A medical spa, or medi-spa, is a hybrid between a traditional day spa and a medical clinic. Medi-spas strive to blend the best of two worlds — a relaxing spa experience combined with the procedures and expertise typically only found at a doctor’s office. Medi-spas have become more popular in recent years for men and women alike, and can range from a medical boutique operated under the supervision of a licensed health care professional to a storefront at a mall that offers a few anti-aging procedures alongside manicures and facials.

Medi-spas offer treatments, products, and services targeting cosmetic issues, and typically employ aestheticians — cosmetic professionals who address minor skin care concerns and administer cosmetic treatments. Aestheticians are not medical doctors or cosmetic dermatologists; they specialize in skin care from a cosmetic background, but do not have a medical license.

While some states have fairly stringent credentialing and criteria for aesthetician licensing, other states do not require aestheticians to be licensed, regulated, or supervised by a physician. While some dermatologists employ aestheticians for certain procedures, aestheticians themselves are not qualified to diagnose patients.

What is a Dermatologist?

A dermatologist is a specialized skin doctor whose goal is to make sure patients have healthy skin, correct diagnoses, and appropriate treatments. Dermatologists have medical degrees and state medical licenses, and have completed four years of medical school in addition to a residency. Some have completed specialized internships in dermatology, or have been board-certified in their medical specialty.

In addition to diagnosing and treating more complicated medical issues, many dermatologists address issues such as lines and wrinkles that are more of a cosmetic concern than a medical problem, and can recommend anti-aging procedures to patients in Sterling Heights to address these issues.

Aesthetician vs. Dermatologist?

While a medi-spa may advertise that they have a doctor affiliation, that can mean anything from having a qualified, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon on-site supervising every procedure, to a doctor who doesn’t specialize in skin care simply lending his or her name to the establishment.

Medi-spas often have wonderful practitioners in their field, and those who seek a non-invasive cosmetic treatment may be satisfied with the level of service and the products provided by an aesthetician. But for a skin diagnosis or a more comprehensive approach to skin care, a visit to the dermatologist is the right choice, for three important reasons:

  1. Safety and Credentialing

In recent years, there have been more calls for tightening regulations to govern medi-spas, and at least a dozen states are working on “truth in advertising” laws that would require medi-spas to detail all practitioners’ training and credentials clearly in their marketing materials. But right now, the medi-spa industry is widely unregulated, and many medi-spas are not transparent about who their supervising doctors are and their qualifications.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that a medi-spa is as safe as a dermatologist’s office because it has the term “medi” in it. As there are currently no uniform standards regulating medi-spas, it can be difficult to know which are great and which should be avoided. Asking questions before signing up for a cosmetic treatment at a medi-spa is essential; if there is any doubt about the safety of the procedure, patients should move on to a qualified physician.

  1. Medical Know-How

As cosmetic procedures and even anti-aging procedures like Botox® have become more popular in Sterling Heights, so have under-qualified providers who lack the proper training and experience. Choosing a physician rather than another type of clinician for complicated cosmetic procedures ensures knowledgeable patient care and beautiful results.

When selecting a physician, the most important consideration is to make sure he or she is board-certified. A reputable board-certified physician who is well-trained in facial anatomy can handle complications should anything go wrong with a cosmetic procedure. Complications are rare, but they can happen; board-certified dermatologists have the medical training to manage any issues that might come up during a procedure or afterward.

Some procedures, such as injectable fillers, require regular maintenance and follow-up appointments, so finding a doctor that can provide continuing care for the long haul is important. Ideally, patients should choose a doctor they feel comfortable returning to for follow-up visits.

  1. Approach to Patient Care

Sometimes the services and treatments provided by both a medi-spa and a dermatologist seem similar, particularly with acne treatments or aesthetic procedures, but the approach is different.

A medi-spa generally provides the services requested by the client; an aesthetician may recommend a particular product based on the client’s desired skin care result and can perform desired cosmetic procedures. A medi-spa is a great place to get facials, eyelash treatments and extensions, eyebrow microblading, laser hair removal, or tattoo removal, as long as the operators are well trained and supervised.

In contrast, cosmetic dermatology uses a comprehensive clinical approach to a patient’s needs. A dermatologist will look for underlying reasons a patient is experiencing an issue, in addition to treating the issue. A dermatologist will consider sun damage, possible skin cancers, skin types, and sensitivities that influence the ability to use certain products and tolerate certain procedures. Then, the dermatologist can recommend the cosmetic and clinical procedures that are right for each patient, and in many cases, can provide those treatments during the same visit. And of course, if there’s a lump, bump, rash, skin lesion, or acne at issue, a dermatologist in Sterling Heights will diagnose and treat the condition from a clinical perspective.

Choose a Dermatologist for Clinical Procedures

For clinical procedures such as injectable fillers or Botox® cosmetic treatments, seeing a qualified dermatologist is a must. A skilled dermatologist will be able to advise patients as to which procedures will achieve their desired results, and can make those results a reality. As common as clinical cosmetic procedures are, many come with a list of potential side effects that are best handled by a medical doctor should the need arise. Even though complicated cosmetic treatments are offered in both medi-spas and dermatologists’ offices, they should only be performed by, or under direct supervision of, a medical doctor such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Medical spas employ competent professionals to meet many cosmetic needs, but dermatologists address cosmetic concerns while also dealing with total skin health. When it comes to clinical injections, diagnosing a skin condition, or dealing with the cause of a cosmetic issue, a dermatologist in Sterling Heights is the right choice.